Yatsugatake - October 1988.
Location: Yatsugatake Chushinkogen National Park
Duration: 3 days 2 nights
Transportation to Start Point:
Train: Shinjuku - Chino 2hrs 25 mins
Bus: Chino - Mugikusa Toge 1hr 10 mins
Several people expressed interest in coming on
this 3-day hike, and eventually it was Phil Rowcliffe, David Fayle
and myself who turned up on the day. We departed platform 4, Shinjuku
Station, at 7 a.m. on Saturday 8th October on Azusa #1. Being
a long weekend the train was already full as we arrived at the
platform at 6-35 a.m. and there was no chance of a seat. The Yen
4,950 train ride took us to Chino, where we arrived at 9-25 a.m.
Chino is a very pleasant, modern station with bus ranks right
outside. The Suwa Bus Line serves many of the resort areas nearby,
and we took the 10-10 a.m. bus for Mugikusa Toge. The Yen 1,350
bus ride took us through some beautiful countryside as we passed
through Tateshina, famous for its ski slopes, on the way to Mugikusa
Toge. We arrived at Mugikusa Toge at 11-20 a.m. and had lunch
at the Mugikusa Toge Hut. The menu was rather spartan, with a
choice between Ramen at Yen 500 and Curry Rice at Yen 600.
Mick, Phil & David at Mugikusa
Leaving Mugikusa Toge at 12 noon, we started climbing
up the slope away from the Hut. The path to Shirakoma Lake goes
off to the left a few hundred yards from the Hut, and passes through
some very pleasant forrested areas before dropping down on to
the main road again, where there is a large car park.
From this area the path re-enters the wooded area
and winds its way towards Shirakoma Lake, which we reached at
12-40 p.m. The first glimpse of the lake was magnificent, as at
this time of the year the leaves of the trees around its edges
were all turning bright red. With the lodge at the end of the
lake and rowing boats out on the lake itself, it was an ideal
setting for a rest at the side of the trail.
Shirakoma So Lodge viewed acroos the lake
Leaving the lodge at 12-55 p.m. we skirted around
the lake before taking a path heading south-east up the wooded
hillside. This part of the trail climbs quite steeply, passing
through a wooded area where all the roots of the trees are moss
covered, before breaking out on to the ridge just below Nyu.
We left our rucksacks on the ridge, and climbed
the short distance to the peak at 2,351m This is a really nice
peak with spectacular views in all directions. The mountains above
Kamikochi, including the distinctive peak of Mt. Yari, being clearly
visible in the north-west.
Nyu 2,352 m, visible as we left the forrest
Leaving Nyu at 2-15 p.m. we continued along a very
attractive narrow wooded ridge until we reached a T-junction in
the trail at 3-15 p.m. The right hand path heads back towards
Takami Ishi Lodge and Lake Shirakoma, and we took the left hand
trail towards Nakayama Toge and Higashi Tengudake. We reached
Higashi Tengudake at 4-35 p.m. Higashi Tengudake is separated
from its twin, Nishi Tengudake 2,646m, by a saddle, but we were
not tempted to climb both as time was pressing. During the climb
of Higashi Tengudake we had realised looking back down the trail
that we had missed the lodge nestled in the trees (Kuroyuri Lodge)
where we had intended to stay. Being reluctant to go down and
climb Tengudake again the next day, we decided to press on and
find another lodge. We soon dropped down the other side of Higashi
Tengudake and came upon Neishi Lodge, sheltered in the lee of
Neishi Sanso with Iwodake in the
At first sight this lodge did not look very appealing
and there was little sign of life, but we were tired and decided
to stay anyway. It was 5 p.m. and the light was beginning to fade.
The lodge turned out to be better than we had expected and we
enjoyed our night there. At one point, the sun broke out from
behind the clouds and the whole mountain was bathed in an incredible
yellow light, with a colourful rainbow in the sky. It is often
amazing how the light changes suddenly on the mountain.
On Day 2, Sunday 9th, we left the lodge at 7-10
a.m. and headed south along the ridge. Shortly we came to a fork
in the trail with the path heading towards Oren Goya. We took
the left hand trail at this point, leading to Natsuzawa Toge,
which we reached at 7-45 a.m.
From here we had quite a tough climb to the top
of Iwodake 2,742m, arriving at 8-30 a.m. Iwodake is an interesting
spot, with a curved rockface leading off to the east and spectacular
views of the ridges leading to Akadake and beyond. Mount Fuji
cannot be seen from Iwodake itself, as the view is blocked by
Akadake and the other mountains, but it can be seen if you walk
along the curved path above the rock wall.
Curved rockface leading eastwards from Iwodake
Looking North from Iwodake, with Higashi and
Nishi Tengudake just behind the cairn
Mick at Iwodake peak, 2,742m
We rested at the peak for 30 minutes, leaving at
9-00 a.m. for our next objective, Yokodake at 2,835m. We reached
the peak at Yokodake at 10-00 a.m, staying ther for some 40 minutes
before dropping down to the ridge for the final climb to Akadake.
At 2,899m Akadake was the highest point on our route.
Yokodake, with Akadake in the background
Looking northwards to Yokodake
On the way up Akadake there are some quite rugged
parts requiring the use of ladders and chains to help you up.
We were pleased to get this part of the hike over and done with,
and we arrived at Akadake peak at 12-05 p.m.
Akadake Lodges in the saddle on the approach
to Akadake 2,899m
Leaving Akadake at 12-30 p.m. we dropped down to
Kiretto Lodge, arriving at 2 p.m. Again we had a fairly long rest,
enjoying the sun and having lunch, before going on to Gongendake.
Descending from Akadake
Leaving Kiretto Lodge at 2-40 p.m. we began the
long climb to Gongendake 2,718m, which in parts was quite tricky.
At one point, just below the summit, we had to climb a 60-foot
metal ladder up a near sheer rockface! Not particulalry dangerous
in fine weather, but it could be quite hazardous in wind and rain.
We arrived at the top of Gongendake at 3-50 p.m. and were pleased
to see the lodge nestled on the side of the mountain just one
minute's walk from the peak. It had been a long day's climbing
and we were relieved to arrive at the lodge. Again not a particularly
well equipped lodge, having no electricity and relying on oil
lamps, but it was marvellous to sit at the kotatsu with a beer
and rest our weary legs. A few Beatles cords from Phil on the
guitar that was lying nearby made the whole thing rather relaxing!
On Day 3 we left Gongendake Lodge at 6-30 a.m.
and climbed across broken rock helped by chains. Eventually the
trail fell away down to a saddle before Amigasayama, where the
Seinen Goya Lodge is situated. This seems to be a much better
lodge and has facilities for camping. Fresh water is available
from a stream some 5 minutes walk away.
We arrived at Seinen Goya Lodge at 7-15 a.m. and
rested until 7-50 a.m. before leaving on the final descent of
the mountain. We decided to take the trail to the left rather
than climbing Amigasayama, and reached Green Lodge at Kannondaira
at 9-20 a.m.
Getting a taxi was not that easy, so we decided
to walk down to Kobuchizawa Station arriving at 11-40 a.m., just
in time for the 11-56 a.m. Express to Shinjuku. This time we were
lucky and were able to get seats, and had a relaxing ride back
home arriving at Shinjuku around 3-30 p.m.